Steps Beyond Remediation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 status nonprofit organization that exists to address equity issues of access and success in higher education for mature college-bound African-American students, other students of color, and low-income students, specifically those who have placed into developmental English as a pre- or co-requisite to college-level coursework. We explicitly seek to serve these groups traditionally underrepresented and underserved in higher education, as well as potentially first-generation college students. Our primary objective is not only to empower such students with the 21st century knowledge and skills they need to get into college, but also to improve the outcomes and completion rates for such students as they learn to navigate college and life, leaving as graduates equipped to flourish in their communities and in a democratic society at large.
As such, our culturally-affirming, faith-based programs will seek to better prepare potential traditional-age college students, while affirming and accelerating the knowledge and skill acquisition of nontraditional students who desire to take college-level courses but have placed into remedial education. For both populations, the overarching goal is to avoid remediation, access higher education, and graduate with a marketable certificate or degree within a reasonable timeframe.
Our agendas, programs, and strategies specifically focus on the needs of mature African American and Hispanic college students, low-income students, and motivated adults testing into remedial courses. However, as a faith-based initiative, we are open to serving all who need our services. Strategies will be based upon successful national models and other proven approaches that reinforce the notion that “demographics is not destiny”, offering such adults the same advantages often readily available to upper-income students, including the benefit of guidance from college-educated parents, high school Advanced Placement courses, and standardized testing preparation.
As seasoned higher education professionals, the president and directors of Steps Beyond Remediation, Inc. are well aware of the magnitude and scope of this problem. Unfortunately, we also realize these issues are not diminishing and current practices are not evenly improving outcomes for thousands of students across this nation. As people of faith, we consider it a moral imperative to respond.
Steps Beyond Remediation, Inc. was conceived to implement already successful, data-informed and results-driven approaches to “what works best” in teaching, mentoring, and coaching traditionally underserved groups, while also informing current research through ongoing assessment and the scaling up of certain reliable initiatives and strategies. We are unique in that our programs are culturally affirming; historically relevant; limited to small, mature cohorts; and geared specifically towards motivated low-income students and students of color. In a supportive, faith-based environment, our intent is to:
- Contextualize the learning of those who already place into developmental English, dramatically accelerating the time to completion;
- Seek out engaged role models who mirror the population being taught and/or have overcome similar challenges;
- Provide individualized, relevant curriculum plans based on an award-winning national model that is culturally affirming and personally motivating;
- Consistently sustain what research indicates for success: high expectations aligned with rigorous coursework, affirmation of prior student learning and experiences, instructor authenticity, and higher-order thinking embedded in all initiatives.
Additionally, the purpose of our work is rooted in the following presuppositions:
- Inequity is a systemic facet of our society that can, and should, be addressed through education as the great equalizer.
- Strong cultural values grounded in one’s history, positive self-identity, faith, and support from “the Village” are compelling and effective measures for combatting systemic inequities.
- The convergence of learned individual behaviors, erosion of social and familial support systems, and public policy mandates, necessitate the urgency of this work.